Adoption – Foundation of a blessed life
God’s opening line during His first conversation with Moses on top of Mount Sinai was, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and BROUGHT YOU TO MYSELF…” (Exodus 19:4, emphasis mine).
Barely out of Egypt, the supernatural drama of the Exodus, the miraculous escape and the epic destruction of Pharaoh’s army are still fresh in the minds and conversations of the sons of Israel. Instead of being driven by oppression and terrorized by the taskmasters’ whips, a pillar of fire and of cloud, God’s presence, now leads them forward.
It is time to start shedding the slave mentality and picking up the concept of sonship. Israel is about to become God’s nation, a brand new prophetic community that never before existed on earth, and it all started with firming up their legal status when God’s voice thundered from heaven, saying, “I brought you to myself.” The Lord was building on His already established provision of “redeeming” Israel from Egypt when He “bought” them with a price and gained lawful ownership of them from their Egyptian masters.
The four cups we drink during the Passover meal recall the four great provisions God supplied when it was time to bring His people out of bondage and into their divine purpose. As God commanded Moses, “… say to the children of Israel: I am the LORD; I will BRING you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will RESCUE you from their bondage, and I will REDEEM you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as MY PEOPLE, and I will be your God.” (Exodus 6:6-7, emphasis mine)
Physical rescue, changed location and circumstances and a brand new legal status (being redeemed for a price) were necessary before God could declare, “You are mine!” From that time forward, Israel shares in the obligations and privileges of belonging to our great new parent, God our Heavenly Father, and it all started with adoption. Adoption is foundational for humanity’s relationship with the Almighty, whether Israel or the elect from the nations who are brought in through the spiritual new birth and are grafted (adopted) into a brand new family.
Adoption was Israel’s first experience as a new nation. The people now belonged to someone: a great and awesome someone – the creator Himself. The Apostle Paul recognized this foundational position when he wept for the people of Israel thousands of years later crying out, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the ADOPTION, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises…” (Romans 9:3-4, emphasis mine).
This principle of adoption is not only foundational in Israel’s relationship with God, but is applicable for all His children from all nations. Writing to the disciples in Ephesus, Paul declared, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to ADOPTION as sons by Jesus the Messiah to Himself…” (Ephesians 1:4-5, emphasis mine). All God’s children are adopted by Him, and the spiritual new birth is the doorway into this new and privileged status.
Divine adoption, therefore, is basic to our standing with God. However, human adoptions – the way we treat orphans and at-risk children who need care – are an expression of this amazing miracle and a witness to the community around us.
ADOPTION IN ISRAEL
Adoption in the State of Israel today can be complex. Jewish laws, religious principles, heavy bureaucracy and moral and cultural differences add to the expected emotional and relational challenges. Most families who are interested in adoption prefer to take in a baby from birth, but because of the high abortion rate (nearly 40,000 babies are aborted each year) not many infants are available. Consequently, only about 120 successful adoptions are made in Israel each year.
To make matters even more complicated, Jewish law requires that the child and the adopting family must be matched according to religion, meaning that Israeli Jewish families can only adopt Jewish children resulting in a “short supply” and a waiting list of about five years. Thousands of children cannot be adopted at all due to the “no religious match” clause and are raised in government-run boarding schools waiting for the perfect family to show up. No doubt, the need for adoptive and foster families willing to embrace older children and children with special needs is great.
IS THERE A SOLUTION?
A bright point of hope in this troubled arena is the vision and work of HaTikva Project, a Messianic ministry based in Jerusalem that is dedicated to helping the needy and strengthening Messianic believers in Israel. Statistically, with one out of six Israeli children considered at-risk in some way, HaTikva Families was launched in early 2018 as a family division of the HaTikva Project in order to focus specifically on providing solutions for those thousands of children waiting to find a safe and loving home.
HaTikva Families operates a new program equipping couples and families (in and out of the community of faith), preparing them to host, foster or adopt orphans and at-risk children. The ministry’s new initiative will also lead national media campaigns in order to raise awareness of the vast needs of disadvantaged children in Israel.
This new program not only prepares the participants to become host, foster, or adoptive families, but also provides professional, financial and community support throughout the process. Their six-week training course covers trauma-informed care; understanding children from complex backgrounds; tools to “rewire” the child’s brain through compassion and connection, and much more.
Messianic couples and families are presently not allowed to adopt Jewish babies in Israel because these couples and families are considered non-Jewish by the rabbinic authorities who govern the Ministry of Interior. Consequently, only Christian babies or “no-known-religion” babies are available for adoption by Messianic families, and the only known adoption by a believing family in Israel was that of a Christian baby.
For as long as the true of identity of Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth, remains hidden from mainstream Jewish hearts and minds, His Jewish followers will also continue to find themselves outside the camp in this “rabbinical limbo,” and Messianic adoptions will remain a gray area in Israel. Nevertheless, HaTikva Families intends to change all that with God’s help, working with various state and private agencies to expand adoption by Messianic Jewish families.
HaTikva Families partners with other Israeli nonprofits with similar goals, supports their shared interests through media initiatives and together fights for the rights of children.
HaTikva’s big vision is to spark and facilitate a national movement that will see the Israeli Body of Messiah take a leading role in seeking true justice for the orphaned, unwanted and unborn children of Israel.
Anybody can do something: adopt, foster, host a boarding school child for the holidays or support a foster or adoptive family. Details on how you can share in this great vision can be found at http://hatikvaproject.org/families/.
“Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.” Psalm 82:3.
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So, I’ve come down
One line always gets me in God’s conversation with Moses: “So, I have come down.” Here’s Moses, freaking out at a bush that won’t stop burning. Why shouldn’t he be? He’s hearing the voice of God Almighty, for goodness’ sake!
The Hebrews are locked in slavery. Moses has blown it and spent about 40 frustrating years in the desert running after sheep. I know, because when we were hippies trying to live on the land in New Mexico, it was my “job” to herd the goats. They drove me crazy, running from bush to bush. The problem, I realized many years later, was that we weren’t feeding the poor creatures enough. So, when they were let loose to “go for a walk with Eitan” they took off like race horses. It was all I could do to keep up with them. The truth was, they were herding me.
When God says to Moses “So, I have come down,” it’s not a throwaway line. The dialogue that unfolds is a defining one (since God reveals his ineffable name “I am that I am—יהוה” and lets Moses know that he’s to be the Lord’s special envoy to Pharaoh), but their chat also contains some humor. When God informs Moses that He is sending the desert shepherd to the most powerful ruler in the world, demanding the freedom of his abundant, free Hebrew slave labor, Moses’ reaction has multiple levels.
It’s like he’s (1) playing dumb, or (2) is truly blown away and hanging on every word, or (3) remembers his less-than-stellar attempt to set his enslaved relatives free, and doesn’t really want any part of it, or (4) has sincere questions and is trying to come to grips with this totally weird situation of a voice coming out of a burning bush. And we imagine the voice being deep and booming, scary and welcoming all at the same time.
Why “Come down”?
“Coming down” is, of course, part of God’s repertoire. He pulls it first on Adam and Eve, that lovely but spaced-out couple at the beginning of the Book. They heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden during the breezy part of the day (my translation of “לרוח היום”). He was there, God, the Creator. And they HEARD Him. God’s presence must have been something physical for them to hear. Conclusion: He had come down.
Then there are all the incidents that people (including my friend Asher) have written about. The Almighty appeared to Abraham, and to Gideon, Ezekiel, and Samson’s folks. But, this action verb description: “So I have come down,” is a personally involved response to the cries of the Hebrew slaves. Why has He come down? “To deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). Talk about an attractive deal!
It’s the getting involved part that drew me in. Fast forward to John’s Gospel. Yeshua says “I am the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:51). God has again “come down,” this time in the flesh! And, again, it is to set the captives free (Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18). It’s looking like this “coming down” business is a major character trait of the Eternal. This IS what He does, and it challenges many religious traditions. IN fact, being among us is His “thing.” (See James 4:8, Exodus 25:8, 33:14, Matthew 28:20).
Come down to me!
I want to dwell with Him and for Him to dwell with me. His “coming down” shows me His personal concern, readiness to sacrifice, unflinching commitment to deal with my junk, and His ability to alter my ego. It was inevitable that a real life Messiah would show up. How else could God fulfill His plan of saving mankind, and saving me? He couldn’t do it long distance, like a Skype call. The only way was to “come down” and take care of business.
Like the time back in Egypt when He heard our cries, He hears them right now. “I’m crying out to you, Lord. Hear my cry. Come down. You have come down, and shown me who You are. But I also need You every day. Help me hear You walking in the garden, breaking the bread. Help me sense your nearness when I’m feeling far from you. Come on down, Lord.”
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, August 23, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.
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If they really knew then they wouldn’t ask
In Matthew chapter 22, we find the Sadducees attempting to trap Yeshua (Jesus) by asking Him a loaded question about the Torah or Laws of Israel. I am not going to recount the entire event in this article, but it takes place between verses 23 and 33. As with all of the tests or traps that were attempted upon Yeshua, this one had much more meaning than a simple attempt by a leader of a religious faction trying to prove his superiority over the leader of another faction. The text begins with the words:
Matthew 22:23 “On that day, Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Yeshua and questioned Him, saying,”
We immediately notice two things. First, the Sadducees purposely came to Yeshua to question Him. They came because they were threatened by His growing following and decided to preemptively attack Him in front of His followers and also in front of their followers. This was a purposeful action that is actually in and of itself a violation of the Torah that they proclaimed to follow. The second thing we notice is that the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection. As a matter of fact, they denied belief in almost all of the supernatural.
As we read the text we can almost see the grins on the faces of the Sadducees as they present their question to Yeshua. They fully expected that they had found a way to show their superior knowledge and belief system, and once and for all show the upstart Galilean rabbi and his followers just how wrong they were. In tennis terms, they were convinced that they had just set the ball up and were only awaiting Yeshua’s reply, so they could slam the ball down – point, game, match. The problem was that instead of setting Yeshua up for defeat they had actually set them selves up for defeat.
You may at this time be wondering where am I going with this article and what does this have to do with me. The truth is that this conversation between the Sadducees and Yeshua may be the most relevant conversation in the Bible for those of us who believe in Yeshua. In our world today we are asked questions in the same way and for the same purpose as this question was asked of Yeshua. We have all heard the question “Can G-D make a rock so big that even G-D cannot pick it up?”. We see this question as an absurd attempt to mock G-D and our faith. But what about when someone proclaims “You can’t be Jewish and Believe in Yeshua” or they ask “Can we live above sin?” Or they say, as I often hear, “No one can keep the law perfectly can they?” or any of the other questions intended to challenge our belief that G-D saved us from sin, not in our sins.
These questions are still asked of us in the same way and for the same reason or motivation as they were asked of Yeshua. They attempt to trick us into saying something that will diminish the power and promises of G-D. They ask us these questions to prove we are wrong and, by extension, to prove that they are correct. Sometimes we wrestle with these questions and at times we fall into the trap and in the end seemingly agree with those who questioned us in the first place.
Instead we should respond in exactly the same way that our Rabbi Yeshua did. He didn’t argue or try to dissect their question or even respond to their trap and allow the Sadducees even a partial victory. He simply said the following:
Matthew 22:29 But answering, Yeshua said to them, “You’ve gone astray, because you don’t understand the Scriptures or the power of God.
The truth is that the questions others ask us cannot be answered because the questions are based upon false assumptions, foundations and a faulty Biblical reality.
People who ask those types of questions have gone astray because they do not know the Scriptures and the power of G-D. They might as well be arguing about how a man should fold his wings or how high can a mountain jump. Men do not have wings and mountains don’t jump.
When confronted with challenges to our faith, before answering the question, begin by asking is it really our faith or beliefs being challenged. Because more often than not the challenges isn’t about our faith. The challenge is about a faulty belief or understanding of our faith, and no matter how you answer a faulty question you will always provide a wrong answer. And the reason that our faith is challenged is simply because those questioning don’t know the Scriptures and they don’t know the power of G-D.
Because if they did, they wouldn’t say; “You can’t be Jewish and believe in Yeshua” and they would not ask “Can we can live above sin?” or “No one can keep the law perfectly can they?” because they would already know that Matthew 19:26 says:
“And looking, Yeshua said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.
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Commentary on Parashat Ki Tavo (When You Come)
DEVARIM (DEUTERONOMY) 26:1–29:8
I closed my last blog entry, Parashat Ki Teitzei (When You Go Out), with two verses from Galatians 3:13–14:
Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE” — in order that in Messiah Yeshua the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
I wrote that Yeshua is the fulfillment of the Torah (law) and the Prophets! He took upon Himself our curse (Isaiah 53), and through faith in Him, we can all — Jew and Gentile alike — be restored to the Father. This is the GOOD NEWS of Messiah!
There is a direct connection to this week’s reading portion as it deals with God’s very specific instructions for Israel for when they would enter the Land of inheritance. As I was reading this week’s portion, I found it interesting that there are 14 verses (28:1–14) that speak of the blessings of obedience and that there are 54 verses (28:15–68) that speak of the curses resulting from disobedience.
How can we understand this? I believe God wants to get our attention by stressing the importance of obedience and disobedience. I also believe that God wants to ensure that we understand the byproduct of disobedience, which is the curse. The reason for this is prophetic, in my opinion, further cementing the fulfillment of the amazing work that Yeshua did for each person who chooses to accept it. He became the “curse” for us so that we could be free from it!
So, what does knowing this mean for me? For you? This is a personal question each follower of Messiah must answer.
God brought Israel from slavery in Egypt, into the Land of promise for a very specific reason:
This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. You have today declared the LORD to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice. And the LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured people (nation), as He spoke to you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He shall set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated (holy) people to the LORD your God, as He has spoken.
God chose Israel to be His people – a treasured people, a holy people – not for their sake, but for HIS! Through Israel, the glory of God Almighty was to be revealed to the nations.
My dear brothers and sisters, we must understand that being chosen by God for a specific task is something that also applies to us as believers today. We have all been called to a life of holiness (obedience) and have been warned of the perils of disobedience. Again, this is not so that we are free to do whatever we please, but to live for Him:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yeshua; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
As I have written many times before, the result of our understanding the fact that Yeshua took upon Himself the curse that was meant for us (Isaiah 53), and through faith in Him, we can all – Jew and Gentile – be restored to the Father, is living a life which is separated for Him and for His Glory.
But you are A CHOSEN people, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
(1 Peter 2:9–10)
Let us not take this for granted! Does your life reflect this great truth?
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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Revive and restore
Revival leads to restoration. This principle of the kingdom of God holds true for an individual or for a whole nation.
For an individual, revival would mean being born again in one’s heart and then receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, John 3:3). After someone receives this spiritual renewal, there begins a process of healing and restoration in his or her life.
Revival starts in the spirit and then brings restoration to every part of life; including mental, psychological, emotional, physical, social, financial and so on.
Actually, the process of “revive and restore” must be preceded by a previous stage, called “repentance.” Repentance means to change one’s behavior, thoughts, decisions and attitude; to stop doing things that are wrong, immoral and unhealthy; to ask forgiveness from God and our neighbor; and to turn back to a loving and submitted relationship with our Heavenly Father.
The message of the gospel of the kingdom always starts with the word “repent” (Mark 1:15, 6:12; Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30). So, the full process should be summarized as: “repent – revive – restore.”
What is true on the personal level is also true on the “macro” level. In Acts 1:6, the disciples ask Yeshua to “restore the kingdom to Israel.” In Acts 1:8 Yeshua replies that first they must “receive power from the Holy Spirit and be witnesses of Him from Jerusalem to the whole world.”
Here Yeshua defines revival on the macro level as composed of two elements: Holy Spirit power and world-wide evangelism. Ultimately this dynamic of revival (Holy Spirit and evangelism) will lead to restoration. As worldwide revival has two dimensions, so does worldwide restoration.
In Acts 1:6 Peter asked for the restoration of Israel. But after the Pentecost revival, his vision is expanded to the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). There is a restoration of all things, and there is a restoration of the kingdom to Israel. We could summarize the process as:
- Holy Spirit
- All Things
Revival (Holy Spirit power and evangelism) leads to Restoration (Israel and all things). I serve as part of the ministry team at Revive Israel and at Tikkun International. (Tikkun means “restoration” in Hebrew.) You can see how the two ideas of revival and restoration are foundations to everything we do. “Revive and Restore” is our motto.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, August 29, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.